Introduction to Physical Science: Energy and Fuels
Energy is defined as the capacity or power to do work, such as the capacity to move an object (of a given mass) by the application of force. Energy can exist in a variety of forms, such as electrical, mechanical, chemical, thermal, or nuclear, and can be transformed from one form to another. It is measured by the amount of work done, usually in joules or watts. All known forms of energy can be converted from one form to another. The Law of Conservation of Energy says that energy can neither be created nor destroyed, but only converted. For example, a motorcycle converts and utilizes many forms of energy including Kinetic and Potential energies. An electrical current of energy surges to the motorcycle starter creating mechanical energy as it spins, eventually sending a spark to the spark plug igniting a small amount of gasoline (chemical and thermal energy), creating an explosion in the piston chamber. When the piston rotates after this conversion of energy, it turns a crankshaft creating a rotational force of mechanical energy sending this rotation to the transmission, which allows the motorcycle to spin the back wheel. Exhaust from the chemical and thermal reactions occurring release from the muffler, creating sound energy. Upon moving, the chain spinning creates mechanical energy and the decompression of the springs change from potential energy to kinetic energy. In a matter of mere seconds, a multitude of energy conversions have taken place, right under your rear end.
Fossil fuels are organic remains of biological life forms such as plants and animals that decompose under immense heat and pressure. The process creating fossil fuels results in coal, petroleum and natural gas, three sources of energy that are flammable and found naturally in the Earth. Fossil fuels are considered a nonrenewable resource because they take millions of years to form. However, fossil fuels are highly attractive...
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